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Veal Report – Paracycling Pan Am Games First Event 20km TT

by Ed Veal

November 15, 2011 (Guadalajara, Mexico) – Today was the 20km TT in downtown Guadalajara. We had an early start time and that meant an early morning getting the bikes packed, breakfast and on to the bus for 6:30am. I tossed and turned the night before thinking about the race and how things would go down. It has been awhile since I have been as nervous as I was and for sure didn’t get the sleep that was needed. I have put a lot of pressure on myself and I’m really feeling I have big shoes to fill here in Mexico.

Piloting a tandem takes a lot of different qualities and I think I have what it takes. The problem is the guy that normally is on the front of Daniel Chalifour’s bike is pretty damn good and I really want to do a great job so he isn’t thinking he made the wrong call by bringing me on board. A 20km TT is something I feel very strong at. Keep it short and I think I can hang with the best most of the time. Add to it a flat out and back course with bumpy broken roads and I gotta say I was thinking things couldn’t get much better.

The American team was the one that was supposed to give us the most trouble. This duo has gone back and forth with Alex [Cloutier] and Daniel for years with both tandem teams winning their fair share of races against each other. Eric [Van den Eyde] our coach told us is would be very close and would come down to less than 10 seconds – these guys are that good. We started 4th behind three tandems and the American team started behind us.

There was a bigger crowd than I had anticipated and man was I jacked to get a good start. Daniel and I agreed to start of with a high cadence and get the blood flowing a bit before we hit the bigger gears. For me this is a big switch as I like to grind a bit. Trying to find the sweet spot between two riders can be tricky but so worthwhile. We went off pretty hard but stayed to our plan of spinning at a higher cadence.

When I say higher I mean 110 or more. For those who ride with me you know this is a big switch and something you might have never seen. We hit the turn to come back after 2.5km and it is a big round-about with a tight left onto the only grade on the course. We took it hard and stood out of the corner. I yelled “up” and the two of us put the power to the pedals trying to get on top of the gear as we crested the top of the rise.

Just then I saw the Americans coming the other way and calculated (guessed) that we might just be just a hair ahead of them. As we hit the 7km mark we passed Eric our coach and he pointed one finger and yelled “4 seconds” This told me we were in first by only only seconds. After the fast start and the way we were breathing already I had hoped for a bit more than that. We took the next turn around very fast and I actually impressed myself.

We went curb to curb without losing to much speed and I had the bike on a 45 degree angle. We hammered out of the corner and really got the bike moving. We came screaming past Eric again right before the start finish but I didn’t catch the number he yelled out. He still had his one finger pointed which meant we were leading and the way we were rocking I was convinced we had added to the lead. We crossed the start finish and then back down to the other end and the big sweeping corner.

We exited and stood and all I heard was yelling from Daniel. It was a “come on” or Let’s go” but I loved it and we both stomped the rise and hit the straightaway hard. As the ground leveled off I could see the American team coming the other way. This time I could tell we had made up some ground. As we passed Eric gain I caught what he said this time and it was a single finger and “30 seconds” this is when I decided I didn’t want to settle and hit the big gears.

Up until that point I had worked very hard keeping the cadence over 100 and around 105 but with 4 kms to go started pushing a bigger gear and Daniel came along for the ride. We killed the last corner and came back up the finishing straight in the 53X11 trying to break the bike. I could hear him grunting and feel him pushing with all his might. We hit the line and didn’t speak for a solid 2mins.

Both of us were breathing out of control and then it all started to hit me…we won!! The crowd was cheering and the streets were lined with fans with their hands out to give us high 5’s. We rolled back to the start and soaked up all the praise with handshakes and hugs all around. Winning a race with a team mate is incredible. You go to battle together and you share the entire experience together. It was our first race together and It couldn’t have gone better.

We took 45 seconds out of the team to beat and we enjoyed one of the best podium ceremonies I had ever been a part of or witnessed. The way the medals went was with the men and the woman competing against each other and a handicap system to even things out.

After factoring the 86.5% of our time against theirs it was determined that….. Our fellow team mates Lyne Besette and Robbi Weldon won the gold medal the American women’s tandem took silver and Daniel and I took the bronze. GO CANADA GO!!  We tackle the 4km pursuit Tuesday and the Kilo on Thursday…road race ends the trip. Track report is up next!

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